Amylase is an enzyme present in human saliva designed to break down starch present in foods like potatoes, rice and cereal grains. The main effect of amylase on starch is to break it down into simple sugars, which are used as an immediate energy source for the body. One reason why foods that contain a high amount of starch start to taste slightly sweet as a person chews the food is due to the amylase breaking down the starch into sugar. Another source of amylase production is the pancreas, which catalyzes the breakdown of dietary starch in the body for energy use.
In humans, as well as some animals, amylase is an enzyme commonly present in saliva that helps break down starch present in carbohydrate-rich foods like grains, beans and some vegetables. This effect of amylase on starch helps predigest the food before it enters the digestive system, saving some time and energy in the digestion process. The enzyme amylase breaks down the starch in foods like potatoes and rice into simple sugars, which are used as energy sources for the body. Although this enzyme is very common in most individuals, some people can have very low levels of this enzyme in their saliva.
Also, amylase helps the carbohydrates in a food break down more quickly and easily, which can help avoid gas or bloating. Some supplement companies produce artificial amylase for this very reason, but current studies are needed to determine their full effects on human health. The pancreas produces amylase as well, which further helps break down dietary starch in the human body. This effect that amylase has on starch within the pancreas also helps provide the body energy by breaking down the carbohydrates into simple sugars.
In bread making, the main effect of amylase on starch involves the breakdown of yeast, which is then converted into simple sugars. These simple sugars provide nourishment for the yeast which helps it grow, aiding the bread in rising properly. Amylase is also added to yeast during some beer and wine making, as it also helps break down starch into simple sugars and aids in fermentation. More often than not, the effect of amylase on starch in beer and wine making involve adding amylase enzymes to grains such as barley and rye, as well as pure sugar in some cases.